When I was about 4 or 5, I attended a family party for my great-grandmother.
Now mini Hermia was a little different to the Hermia now before you.
For one, I was obviously smaller.
Secondly, I was a first-class tomboy.
On top of that I had a constant tomato face (‘rosy’ was what some sympathetic people referred to it as), a forehead that took up half my face and I also had MASSIVE frizzy black hair (see exhibit A—->)
I was like one of those kids you see legging it around in Angela’s Ashes.
Bit of a mongrel, like.
No one in my family was like that.
The girls were girly and the boys clean and well behaved.
That’s probably the reason I had very little contact with members of my extended family, now I think about it…
So there we were at the family gathering in my great-gran’s house.
I was sitting quietly, not really sure how these things went.
We never usually turned up to these parties (I was about to find out why) so I was new to all this craziness.
But from what I’d heard, there would be boring adult talk and then I’d get cake and all would be right with the world.
Turns out I had one of those families who like to perform.
You see, my sorta cousin was taking ballet lessons at the time and wanted to perform for everyone.
Fine, go ahead there, Sorta Cousin.
Dance your little heart out.
But then someone thought the Frizzy Child (ie: Me) should join in and possibly learn how to be a girl.
I was dragged into the back room, too shy to protest against people who weren’t my parents, and was dressed up in a conveniently present extra ballet costume.
Sorta Cousin: Girly, pretty, perfect hair, perfect bum-skin, poise and the likes.
Me: …well you’ve seen the picture.
So we’re placed at the centre of the room.
The music starts.
Sorta Cousin begins gracefully moving her arms and spinning and doing whatever it is ballerinas do as she perfectly executes her pre-perfected routine.
Hermia stands floppy-armed and sulky beside her.
“Hermia!” thrills my gran. “Dance like Sorta Cousin is! Be a good girl!”
My gran wasn’t a person you defied without losing a limb.
I began shuffling from side to side.
I studied Sorta Cousin.
I lifted my arm like so.
Stuck a leg out here.
Hey I was getting the hang of this, I thought. Maybe I could be a ballerina.
I gave it my everything, prancing around, elegantly delighting those around me with my beautiful flowing movements.
In reality, I was flopping around like a seal having a stroke, my face getting redder and redder, the sweat from crazy,jerky movements making my hair bigger and bigger.
Sorta Cousin edged further and further away, try to distance herself from me and my spastic flailing.
When the music ended – and my parents breathed a sigh of relief – the realisation set in as I looked at the awkward faces of those clapping around us.
“Oh well done, Sorta Cousin,” they said, hugging and petting her, “that was beautiful, you were wonderful!”
“Oh Hermia….” they said, looking uncomfortable, “…so, are you still doing well in school?”
And that, Dear Readers, is how I learned I dance like a fish and developed a deep loathing towards ballet.
EDIT: I really felt I needed to hit home just how hideous I really was while dancing.
Please enjoy this video I created using Paint and 12million hours of my life…